1888 Monrovia Mayor Is Back in the Picture

Thanks to a relative, a portrait of one of the city’s first settlers and its second mayor now hangs with those of other mayors in City Hall.

During a visit this summer, the great-great-nephew of Monrovia’s second mayor, Gen. William Pile, was disturbed to discover that no tombstone marked his ancestor’s grave at a local cemetery. When he checked at City Hall, he also found that there was no photograph of the general among the portraits of other mayors.

“We thought that wasn’t right,” said Forrest Pyle. Pyle and his wife, Barbara, of Madera, obtained a picture of the general from the archives of New Mexico, where the general had served as governor in 1869. They presented the photo to the Monrovia City Council this month.

Born in Indianapolis in 1829, Pile was a teacher and Methodist preacher. He was a general in the Union Army, a U.S. congressman from Missouri, governor of New Mexico and the U.S. minister to Venezuela.


He moved to Monrovia in 1886 “to retire but didn’t do a very good job of that,” remarked Barbara Pyle, who has been researching the family’s history.

After arriving in California, he cultivated wine grapes on a 50-acre tract 2 miles south of Monrovia, was a bank director and built a home on Mayflower Avenue that is now a historical landmark. He served on the city’s board of health and was elected mayor in 1888.